Translations Tips
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Translations Tips
Ideas for improving the quality of written translations

How to ensure a quality translation:

  • The English version of the document intended for translation should be written at about a 6th-grade level.
  • The writing should be responsive to the emotions and feelings of the reader in addition to dealing with the facts of the situation. The translation should recognize the frustrations and difficulties that any person would have who has a limited understanding of the English language and American culture. Put yourself in the position of the reader and respond to their concerns as part of your message.
  • Use a qualified translator, such as the translations providers who have contracted with Washington State. If you have a staff member do the translation, make sure it is proofread by at least one other person who is a native speaker of the language. Never rely on computer software for translation.
  • When sending a document to an outside vendor for translation, give the translator clear instructions. Ask the translator to use every day language, at a low register, and not to translate your text literally. Request that the language of the translated document be noted on the translation in English. When a Glossary of Educational Terms in Washington is available for the target language, provide the translator with an electronic copy and ask that it be used as a reference tool.


Quality Indicators for Translation and Interpretation in K-12 Educational Settings: Guidelines and Resources for Educators, by the California Department of Education

Phone-based interpretation: How your district can access interpreters in more than 170 languages.

Build a pool of interpreters in your district: Learn what Puget Sound ESD has done and how they can help you.

Find Translated Materials for Parents

Find translations providers on contract with Washington State: Schools and districts are eligible for the pricing under this contract.

A cost savings tip: If you translate similar documents into the same language, ask the translator not to charge you for the text that is the same on more than one document (e.g. a progress report for Kindergarten and one for First Grade may both contain much of the same text, which would only need to be translated once.

Teaming with an Interpreter - an online training

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